Keeping an eye on price and fabric weight, they invested in soft knits and sweaters, mixed-textile and gypsy-inspired tops, animal motifs, stripes and embellished denim sportswear. Leading accessories included long beaded necklaces with totem pendants, backpack handbags and artistic scarves.
Sales representatives and designers said traffic was off, variously attributing it to a thunderstorm on the first day, a slow start to spring retailing, the oil bust and market timing.
“We’re the last show of the season,” said Greg Mider, owner of Mider Group.
“People are waiting for the weather to break,” said Zachary Weinstein, a principal at CP Shades. “We write close to delivery and it’s too early for fall. The economy is really tough, especially down in Houston with oil prices at the lowest they’ve been in 30 years.”
“The customer is wear-now-buy-now,” said Galina Sobolev, designer and co-owner of Single, who offered novelty tops and dresses for immediate delivery, plus stretch-leather leggings, multimedia and embellished styles shipping through July.
“January was busier, but we love Texas women,” said Ripley Rader, who was showing her namesake collection. “They dress well and they value American-made clothing. We keep our price point low — the average jumpsuit is $200.”
Buying consultant Mary Bloom and Kathryn Barrett, manager of the boutique in the nearby Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center, said the shop’s fortunes have risen with the quality of its jewelry, accessories and gifts.
“Business is booming over plan,” Barrett enthused. “We’re up 30 percent this month and we had a great Christmas.”
They scouted for unusual items, picking up artistically printed poncho tops and scarves by Blank.
Charli Light, owner of Charli’s in College Station, Tex., said sales were OK, but she was concerned about effects of the energy crash.
“You have to be careful,” she said. “I’ve been in business 41 years, and I remember the mid-Eighties…It cascades to builders, mortgages, and then it affects everything.”
Charli caters to students, parents and alumni at Texas A&M University, which has an enrollment of 58,577.
“I’m seeing every line has more reasonable prices, like Go Silk,” she said. “The sorority girls want $100 dresses. I used to sell $900 prom dresses, but I’m sick of them trying on 15 dresses and taking pictures and buying it online or Rent the Runway and all that.”
As FIG’s featured brand, Good Hyouman had a strong show, according to company founder Brett Novek.
“I picked up eight accounts today,” he said.
Made in Los Angeles, Good Hyouman offers inexpensive T-shirts, sweats and activewear printed with inspirational slogans such as “Best Day Ever” and “Thankful.”
“It’s based on the idea that everyone has a story,” Novek said.
He introduced Good Hyouman as a T-shirt line in 2011 to honor his late father and the concept struck a chord. Annual wholesale volume is over $5 million to 700 accounts, including Equinox, Planet Blue and the Web sites of Nordstrom and Anthropologie, he said.
The upbeat Ts have done well for Belle Ami, a new boutique in Houston. Owner Jennifer Frost also sought casual and date tops from Lola & Sophie, Michael Stars and Sanctuary.
“I’m buying a lot more color and different body styles,” she noted.
FIG has leased a new space in the burgeoning Design District but has postponed its move “for a couple of years,” said co-owner John Sughrue.
FIG had planned to move in October, but the venue was offered an extension on its current lease and the new building isn’t ready, he explained.
“We’re redesigning the building,” he said. “It’s hard to do in six to nine months.”
FIG is also the home to the eighth annual Dallas Art Fair opening Thursday night.